June 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Israel Memorial Day: The Yeshiva That Pays the Price

When Rabbi Goren suggested that Israel’s annual Memorial Day be commemorated on the eve of Israel Independence Day, as a precedent he pointed to the juxtaposition of the Fast of Esther and Purim. Indeed, life in Israel continues to be punctuated by extremes of joy and pain. As was the case over the last few years, once again, as we were all getting ready to celebrate Pesach, we heard the terrible news of the sacrifice of yet another terror victim. This time it was Sgt. Elchai Taharlev of Talmon, murdered in a ramming attack outside Ofra.

Israeli newspapers were quick to point out that Elachai was a graduate of Yeshivat Makor Chaim whose younger brother currently attends the Yeshiva. Maariv proclaimed: “The Yeshiva that Pays the Price: 7 Killed Over the Last Decade.” The Yediot Achronot headline read: “The Tragedies of Makor Chaim: Terror and Affliction Refuse to Spare the Prestigious Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion Ever Since the Kidnapping of the Three Boys in the Summer of 2014.” Arutz Sheva published the moving letter written by Bat Galim Shaer, mother of Gilad, Hy”d, to Elchai’s family—her late son’s neighbor, friend and schoolmate. In the letter she wrote that amidst the pain and suffering “…we searched for the boys, but we found ourselves.” Just a week before, in an interview with the B’Sheva newspaper, Bat Galim was asked if she could, to whom would she award a medal? She responded: “To Rabbi Dov Singer, Rosh Yeshiva of Makor Chaim. His unique educational approach, training young men to empathize and engage in deep and respectful personal interactions should serve as an example and an ideal for other educators.”

The newspapers listed the tragedies, one after another. In November 2014, Makor Chaim student Chagai Lemkus lost his sister Dalia in a terror attack. In April 2015, Shalom Sherki, whose brothers studied at the Yeshiva, was killed in a ramming attack. In January 2016, when Daphne Meir was murdered in her home in Otniel, it was Rabbi Dov Singer who drove her son Akiva home from school to face their tragedy together. Makor Chaim graduates serving in the IDF were killed in action—Capt. Benaya Sarel (August 2014) and Capt. Eliav Gelman (Feb. 2016). Pedaya Mark, son of murdered Rabbi Miki Mark (July 2016) also from Otniel, is still saying Kaddish in the Yeshiva. All this happened since the kidnapping and murder of Naftali, Gilad and Ayal in June 2014.

Makor Chaim was miraculously spared from additional tragedies. Back in 2008, terrorists broke through the paper-thin walls of the study hall, but luckily they entered the Yeshiva library during a meeting of the dormitory counselors who also serve as armed members of the emergency intervention team. Two staff members were slightly injured as they overpowered the terrorists. In May 2016, armed terrorists ambushed and shot up a school bus carrying eleventh graders on the way back from spending a Shabbat with Rabbi Singer in Tekoa, yet miraculously, no one was hurt.

“We feel that Hashem is looking at us through a magnifying glass,” Rabbi Singer said after the bus attack. On another occasion Rabbi Singer said: “You can actually feel that the heart of the entire Jewish nation beats as one. This alone gives us the strength to cry out and beg for mercy…We want to tell Him that we got the message, we have become more humble, more resilient—but no one is asking us. We accept our lot in life, but now that we have already made it clear that we accept it all—the good and the bad—why not give us the good? For years now, Makor Chaim students have been wearing a tee shirt with Rebbe Nachman’s motto: “Nothing Is More Whole Than a Broken Heart!”

It’s common knowledge that “There are no atheists in a foxhole.” In times of great loss, of deep stress, when the way going forward narrows down to despair, it is then that we can find within ourselves a special connection to the Divine. Is there no other way?

The answer is simple. If we can find the way to serve God with deep joy, we can avoid having to serve Him out of pain. Many of us say the Arizal’s prayer between Sholom Aleichem and Ayshet Chayil where we say: “Rouse my heart to love you, so I may keep your commandments with no sorrow.”

More and more we are becoming aware of the fact that there is a gaping hole in our lives—the ability to connect to God with our emotions, something that is connected to the idea of prophecy. Being homeless children, having lost His House 2000 years ago, we have lost the place where this would happen. The original Chasidic movement and today’s Neo-Chasidic trends are attempts to re-create this connection. As we come closer and closer to redemption, this movement is growing by leaps and bounds.

Makor Chaim and Rabbi Dov Singer are at the forefront of this revolution. Makor Chaim’s Beit Midrash L’Hitchadshut Outreach Program brings this message to communities throughout Israel and even overseas. The Lifnei V’Lifnim Alternate Educators Program, run in conjunction with Herzog College, brings the educational revolution of Yeshivat Makor Chaim to teachers from all over Israel. Israel’s Education Ministry has just appointed Makor Chaim to run a new program geared to empower joyous prayer in schools throughout the country.

On Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, followed by Independence Day, we cry over those we have lost, but recommit ourselves to grow and build and to rejoice with what we have. We remember the tremendous emotional tidal wave of Jewish unity felt around the globe in the aftermath of the kidnapping of the three boys. Education Minister Naftali Bennet; Naftali’s mother, Racheli Fraenkel; Gilad’s mother, Bat Galim Shaer; and others have attributed this to Makor Chaim’s unique leadership during the crisis.

Makor Chaim’s response to terror is the construction of the new campus in memory of Naftali, Gilad and Ayal outside of Neve Daniel on the historic “Patriarch’s Road”—a short reclaimed section of the ancient road that once connected Hebron and Jerusalem, replete with ancient ritual baths and Roman milestones. The painful yet empowering trail in the footsteps of the three boys has led us back to the Road of our Forefathers. In joy and in sorrow, let us pray and act for the fulfillment of the very last words of the last prophet, Malachi: “May he return the hearts of the fathers to the sons and the heart of the sons to their fathers.”

By Yossi Baumol

 Yossi Baumol is the Director of Development at Makor Chaim. He can be reached at [email protected] or 718-734-6524.

 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles